The Ultimate Popping Cork Setup


Note: This blog post on the ultimate popping cork setup was originally shared on June 28th, 2022, but we’re now sharing it again so you can assemble the best outfit for popping corks as we enter the heat of summer!! Be sure to scroll down to check out all of the HELPFUL comments below this article!

What makes up the ultimate popping cork setup?

What sort of tackle and gear do you need to assemble the ideal popping cork outfit?

If you want to catch more fish on popping corks, then you need to check this out!!

Ultimate Popping Cork Setup [VIDEO]

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The most important tool included in the system is the fishing rod itself.

Popping corks are meant to suspend and float on the surface.

So when a fish pulls the cork underneath the surface of the water, the buoyant cork is trying to push its way back to the surface.

That means you need a rod with very Fast-Action.

I recommend the TFO Tactical Inshore Spinning Rod.

There is no loss in response time from the load up in the rod to the time it can take for the cork to come back up to the surface.

You need to provide enough force for the cork to get back to the surface and set the hook in the fish’s mouth.

The TFO Tactical Inshore rod that I use is a 7′ Medium-Fast Action Rod.

Keep in mind, that TFO Tactical rods are slightly heavier than most other inshore fishing rods but it is equipped with a super Fast-Action tip.

That is the difference maker when burying the hook in a fish’s mouth.

Simply put, other rods will not respond this way when you are trying to set the hook while fishing a popping cork.

If I was forced to only recommend one thing from this entire setup it would be the TFO Tactical Inshore Rod.

It goes without saying that having a strong connection to the fish is vital and you could only have one chance to get a clean hookset in a fish’s mouth.

You do not want to lose fish because of a mistake in gear selection.

I personally am a “Rod Snob” and used to have a completely custom rod outfitted for my popping cork trips.

But I have since traded that out for the TFO Tactical Inshore Rod.


Fish often strike a lure under a popping cork and immediately take off on a run.

It can be in your favor to use a reel that picks up line well, especially in the case the fish takes a run directly at you.

Daiwa’s BG MQ reels are absolute powerhouses and have a line pick-up speed of nearly 3 feet per turn.

If you want to add a premium reel to your popping cork setup, the Daiwa BG MQ hits all the marks.

I not only use it for popping cork setups but the BG MQ has become my everyday fishing reel.

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unpopular popping cork hack

Popping corks are an extremely effective method for attracting curious fish over to check out your lure and strike.

Often overlooked is the right rod and reel combination that puts you in the best position to succeed.

Be sure to head over to our online tackle shop and pick up a TFO Tactical Inshore Rod while they’re still in stock!

Featured Equipment:

Do you have any more questions about the ultimate popping cork setup?

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James Hunt
5 months ago

Not sure this is a good idea or not (and certainly not new), but here is what I want to try: braid to mono with FG knot, tactical angler clip to top swivel of popping cork, micro tactical angler clip on bottom swivel of popping cork. attach appropriate length of leader to lure or baited hook with a small perfection loop on the end to quickly attach to the micro clip. The idea being to quickly change pre-rigged lures, baits to the popping cork. My only concern is would it cause binding where the clips and swivels are attached. Might be too much hardware but the micro clips are really quite small.

11 months ago

Hello Matt I noticed you recommended the TFO Tactical 7’ medium fast action rod. But on the shop page I only see the 7’ ML. This is in reference to using the popping cork.

kenneth Locke
6 months ago
Reply to  Coco

Did you ever get an explanation? I’m wondering the same thing.

1 year ago

I fish different ways kayak,wading pot holes,wading mud flats, fishing shore lines in a boat and casting from rocky shorelines where distance is a premium. Targeting redfish and trout and rare drum and flounder. Use lures top water spoons and worms. Also live bait croaker and mud minnows. My question is the length of the spinning rod 7 ft vs 7 1/2 foot. At times distance is paramount and other times not do I need 2 different rod lengths

Wyatt Parcel
1 year ago

Fantastic suggestions on the cork setup!! Thanks for this tip Matt!

Daniel Lincoln
1 year ago

Thank you Matt for responding to my question. I did see later that someone else had asked you about the same thing. I do have another question though. I’m looking for a new rod for kayak fishing and I’m trying to decide between the TFO Pro S and the TFO Tac. I see that the Tac has the exposed blank at the real seat. Is that a considerable advantage or are they both fairly equal? Just looking for your opinion. I think Luke is partial to the Pro. Also, what’s your thoughts between 7″ and 7.6″ for kayaks?

Daniel Lincoln
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Lanier

Thanks for that information. My main target is trout and flounder and most of my fishing is around Grand Isle La. and the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. I tend to use soft plastics and if that isn’t working I’ll go to cut bait. Looks like I’ll probably end up ordering one of each.

devin sebile
1 year ago

I’ve been curious to kno how to retrieve paddle tails with a popping cork I’ve been limited to shrimp lures

Mark Ethridge
1 year ago

Matt, Would the PRO S in 7’6 M work just as well? I have two of them and really can’t afford to buy another rod for the arsenal right now.

Buzz Butters
1 year ago

Great instructional Matt! And thank you for using the correct terminology for action and power of a rod. Too often the “experts” get action and power turned around. Short, sweet, and informative. Great job Matt. Maybe an instructional segment on what is action, what is power, and the lack of industry standards for power ratings might be helpful to a lot of anglers. Buzz

Daniel Lincoln
1 year ago

Do you have a video explaining rod listings. Just watched a video of Mat using a TFO Tactical medium fast. When looking at the rods in your tackle store I found M MH ML. What would be the listing for the fast action?

Mark Henderson
1 year ago

Nothing more than a commercial for a rod and reel; not one word about how to use the set up to attract fish. I saw a paddle tail about 18” from the cork and that was about all I learned.


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